Have you been contacted by a collection agency known as FMA Alliance Ltd., or simply FMA Alliance?
FMA Alliance is a legitimate collection agency representing a number of different entities.
Of particular concern is that they often represent government agencies.
That means they may be collecting past-due taxes, fines, government fees, court-ordered debts, and even tolls.
Our recommendation when dealing with FMA Alliance Ltd.—or any other collection agency—is to be as proactive as possible.
In this guide, we’ll be showing you specific strategies for dealing with FMA Alliance.
What Is FMA Alliance?
FMA Alliance Ltd. began operations in 1983, and is based in Houston, Texas.
The company started by handling collection accounts for local doctors’ offices. They have expanded to represent clients in the healthcare, finance, and retail fields.
But they also handle collections for student loans and governments. The latter includes debts for federal, state, and municipal governments and their agencies.
That includes collecting for utility bills, business taxes, court-ordered debt, parking, and moving violations, emergency medical fees, permit and licensing fees, and even bridge, tunnel, and highway tolls.
The company seems to be a small operation, collecting debts in only a limited number of states.
However, there’s no indication if they simply represent original creditors, or purchase the debt outright and become the first lien holder.
Is FMA Alliance Legit?
FMA Alliance Ltd. is a legitimate business that has a Better Business Bureau rating of “A+”, which is the highest rating provided on a scale of A+ to F.
The company has been accredited by the BBB since 2013.
There have been just nine complaints filed against FMA Alliance Ltd. in the past three years.
And this is too small a sample size to give any clear pattern of potential issues with the company.
If you are overwhelmed by dealing with negative entries on your credit report,
we suggest you ask a professional credit repair company for help.
Before You Deal with FMA Alliance Ltd.
Below, we will get into the strategies for dealing with FMA Alliance Ltd.
But first, there are some basic rules you’ll need to be aware of when dealing with all collection agencies.
1. Don’t deal with collection agencies by phone
The first instinct for dealing with a collection agency is often to reach out with a phone call. This may be seen as the best way to resolve a collection account quickly.
That may be true. But conducting regular phone calls with any collection agency can easily do more harm than good.
Collection agents are trained and experienced in dealing with debtors.
They know how and when to apply pressure. And this may cause you to become confused and off-balance.
Collection agencies routinely press debtors for more information that more easily connects them with a specific debt. They will also pressure you to make payments you may not be in a position to afford.
None of that can possibly go in your favor. But what makes matters worse is that collection agencies typically record phone calls.
That means any representations you make on the call can be held as evidence against you. They would use this if the company decides to pursue a lawsuit.
Phone contact may be—or seem to be— convenient with a collection agency. But you need to put a stop to it as soon as possible.
2. All contact with a collection agency should be in writing
Under federal law, you have a right to insist all contact with a collection agency be conducted in writing. And that’s exactly what you should do.
During your first phone call with the company, assert your right to demand all contact be handled in writing.
That will put an end to the phone calls, which may be coming in rapid-fire succession.
It’s almost impossible to process multiple phone calls about a past-due debt, let alone deal with it intelligently.
By requiring the collection agency to contact you in writing, you’ll put an end to the phone calls—and the intimidation they often bring.
But there are even more advantages to conducting communication with a collection agency in writing.
Written correspondence limits an exchange. The collection agency will be forced to make its point.
But they’ll have to do it without using any type of intimidating language that may be a violation of federal law.
Meanwhile, you’ll be able to keep your own communications short and to the point.
Any letters you send to a collection agency should be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested.
That will not only prove you sent the letters, but also that they were received.
Save all correspondence—yours and any from the collection agency—in a dedicated file folder.
This will give you the ability to access the latest exchanges. So you’ll always know exactly where you’re at in any negotiation process.
Equally important, your file full of correspondence may be your best defense if the collection agency chooses to bring a lawsuit against you.
3. Never promise to make a payment unless you’re willing and able to make it
Debtors are sometimes intimidated into promising to send at least partial payment to the collection agency to get past an uncomfortable moment.
But that payment may never be sent if the funds to do so are not available.
Unfortunately, making a promise to send payment and failing to do it is not a harmless event.
The collection agency can claim breach of contract and use it as evidence against you in a lawsuit.
Never promise or even hint at sending payment to a collection agency unless you have the funds available, and fully intend to send them.
4. Familiarize yourself with your rights under federal law
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides consumers with certain protections from collection agency abuses.
You can learn these protections by reading the Debt Collection FAQs provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Just knowing your rights under federal law may give you the upper hand when a collection agency starts getting ugly.
Get Legal Help in Dealing with FMA Alliance Ltd.
If you’re sensing that dealing with collection agencies doesn’t always go as planned, you’re thinking right.
Most consumers, unfamiliar with how the collections process works, fail to achieve their desired result.
There’s no shame in that, it’s just that you’re operating on an uneven playing field.
If the debt you owe is large, or if FMA Alliance isn’t being cooperative—and especially if they threaten you with a lawsuit—you’ll need to get legal representation from a credit repair specialist.
We recommend Lexington Law, which is one of the top credit law firms in the country.
They’re likely to have more success with FMA Alliance than you will on your own.
Specific Strategies for Dealing with FMA Alliance Ltd.
With the basics for dealing with collection agencies under your belt, let’s move on to the specific strategies for dealing with FMA Alliance Ltd.
But as we move forward, be aware that the strategy you choose—and how effective it might be—will depend largely on the type of debt FMA Alliance Ltd. is attempting to collect.
The process may be more complicated with a government debt than with a retail debt.
1. Demand FMA Alliance Ltd. Provide a Debt Validation Letter
In theory, at least, all collection agencies are required to provide consumers with proper validation of the debt they are attempting to collect.
FMA Alliance Ltd. may or may not provide this validation voluntarily. But if they don’t, you’ll need to specifically request it. And remind them they are obligated to do so under federal law.
You’ll do this by demanding FMA Alliance Ltd. provide you with a debt validation letter.
The letter should spell out the specifics of the debt. This would include the original date of the obligation, the amount due, when it first went into collection, and exactly who the original creditor is.
It should also provide any information that specifically connects you to the obligation.
Once you receive the debt validation letter, you can begin examining it for clues on how to dispute the claim.
For example, many collection accounts are the result of either an uncredited payment or mistaken identity.
The collection agency may even be attempting to collect a debt you’ve long since paid. But they didn’t properly credit it to your account.
Mistaken identity is a surprisingly common situation, especially if you have a common name.
The collection agency may be attempting to collect a debt owed by someone with the same or a similar name.
But if you can show that you have a different address—or that you never lived at the address on record—you may be able to challenge the validity of the debt.
2. Request a Goodwill Deletion
This is a strategy worth trying if you already know the debt is yours—and you fully intend to pay it (or have already done so).
And your primary concern is improving your credit score.
It works something like this: you’ll send FMA Alliance Ltd. a goodwill letter.
The letter will need to explain that the reason the account went into collection was due to circumstances beyond your control.
That can include the death of a loved one, a divorce, a natural disaster, being called for military service, or anything similar.
You’ll request that FMA Alliance Ltd. remove the collection account from your credit reports as an act of goodwill.
If your letter is convincing, and especially if you can provide documentation supporting your story, the company may agree and remove the debt from your credit reports.
3. Offer a Pay-for-Delete Agreement
This is one of the more speculative strategies for dealing with any collection agency. In large part because it’s not guaranteed to work.
You’ll send FMA Alliance a pay-for-delete letter. In the letter, you’ll propose to pay the debt in full in exchange for the company deleting the account from your credit reports.
That sounds like a fair exchange, doesn’t it? Except for one thing—pay-for-delete arrangements are not legally enforceable.
Collection agencies can show a debt as paid on a credit report, but they’re not supposed to delete it after receiving payment.
For that reason, they can accept your money, then fail to remove the collection account from your reports.
If that turns out to be the case, you’ll have no legal recourse. Even if FMA Alliance agreed to the arrangement in writing.
4. Demand Deletion if FMA Alliance Can’t Fully Validate the Debt
There’s a second strategy involving the debt validation letter.
Say FMA Alliance doesn’t provide the letter, or it comes back missing significant information.
If this is the case, you have a right under federal law to demand the agency remove the collection account from your credit report and halt all further collection efforts against you.
If they agree, not only will the debt be canceled, but your credit report and your credit score will be restored.
So far, so good.
Unfortunately, the collection agency will probably continue attempts to collect a debt even though they’re unable to fully validate it.
You can assert your rights under the FDCPA. But that hardly means the collection agency will cower in fear and give in to your demand.
As often as not, you’ll need to hire an attorney to take over dealing with the collection agency.
That’s not a bad thing, because they’ll be better able to make the case that the agency has violated federal law than you can yourself.
5. Settle the Debt for Less than the Full Amount Owed
Interestingly enough, some collection agencies may suggest this route in your first contact. That’s because it’s a common practice in the industry.
It’s a collection agency putting the “half a loaf is better than none” strategy into practice.
But even if they don’t, you can suggest settling. Send FMA Alliance a letter offering to pay part of the debt in exchange for satisfaction of the entire amount.
We recommend making an initial offer of 50% or less of the full amount of the debt.
If FMA Alliance is willing to negotiate, they’ll counter with a higher figure. You’ll then negotiate back and forth until an agreed-upon amount is reached.
Once it has, insist FMA Alliance confirm all details of the agreement in writing.
That will include their willingness to accept a reduced amount in full satisfaction of the debt, a promise to end collection action against you, and a commitment to report the account as fully paid with all three credit bureaus.
You should not send any money to the collection agency until you receive a letter that includes all the information above.
If you send money before receiving the letter of confirmation, FMA Alliance may accept your payment as a partial settlement of the debt, then continue to pursue action against you for the balance.